When it comes to the death of a loved one, the stronger the love, the deeper the grief. For many years, Mr. Leung suffered from terminal illness and had numerous close encounters with death, and every time, his family had to relive the grief of losing him. “The emotional pain was unavoidable. All we could do was try to be with him during the pandemic and hope that he could depart in peace, “said Mrs. Leung.
Mr. Leung, a terminal patient, had been in and out of public hospitals since 2019. When hospital visitation became suspended due to the pandemic, Mr. Leung found himself isolated and unable to contact his family. Both his mood and health condition deteriorated rapidly, and in just three short months, he became bedridden.
Family Comes First
Despite the restrictions, Mrs. Leung waited in the hospital lobby every day, hoping to catch a glimpse of her husband. Knowing that her husband feared staying in a hospital even more so than dying, Mrs. Leung initiated the discharge process against the advice of the nurses.
After a friend introduced Mrs. Leung to Jockey Club Home for Hospice, she successfully applied for care subsidy. “Even with his fear of hospitals, my husband was overjoyed for a chance to stay at the hospice.” During Mr. Leung’s stay, Mrs. Leung and her son took turns caring for him. One month later, his mood and health condition had improved enough for him to return home. Mr. Leung would go on to be admitted three more times before passing away peacefully last September per his wish.
“After he left, I went through a period of doubt and self-blame. I kept asking myself, ‘Instead of choosing hospice care, what could I have done to help him live longer?'”
Francis, the assigned Clinical Social Worker, explained that feelings of self-blame are common among family members because they are the most unwilling to let their loved ones go. Oftentimes, their grief would be suppressed, which in turn intensifies the self-blame. In this case, since Mr. Leung had agreed to hospice care beforehand, his family was simply fulfilling his final wish.
The Right Decision
Whenever there is self-blame or regret, our social workers would encourage the bereaved to express their feelings. Looking back, Mrs. Leung eventually understood that hospice care for her husband was the correct decision at the time. After her own bereavement experience, Mrs. Leung enrolled in the “Outreach Palliative Care Assistant Certificate Programme” offered by the Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care to learn more about end of life care for the terminally ill.
Our Bereavement Service
Our social workers are committed to providing bereavement service for the terminally ill and their families. Francis explains how it helps the bereaved overcome their grief.
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This information was published with permission from The Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care. You can click here to read their newsletter as well as the Mandarin text for this article.
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